Anzac Day: RSL Queensland State President Major General Stephen Day on veteran issues

26 Apr 2024

At least 50 veterans across Queensland will be reaching out for help to have a roof over their head on the very same day the nation comes together to honour them and their fallen comrades. They will mark Australia’s most sacred day sleeping rough on the streets, in what has been described as a national shame.

And many of our homeless veterans have families.

RSL Queensland’s Veteran Homelessness Program supports between 50 and 70 people a night, with many more engaging with other support services, some reluctant to identify their military history.

Other support services say dozens more could also be sleeping rough, with the number of veterans sleeping rough with their families including kids increasing, especially in the past 12 months.

RSL Queensland State President Major General Stephen Day at Toowong Memorial Park. Picture: Richard Walker

RSL Queensland State President Major General Stephen Day at Toowong Memorial Park. Picture: Richard Walker

RSL Queensland state president Major General Stephen Day said on Anzac eve: “Tonight we’ll be looking after roughly 50 homeless veterans, we will make sure they’ve got a roof over their head and food in their belly.

“One of the challenges is actually finding them, they don’t usually identify as veterans when they’re out on the street.”

Salvation Army veteran support team program manager Jonathon Dyer said they were working with more than 80 veterans and their families experiencing homelessness or at risk across the state.

“There’s definitely been an increased demand over the last 12 months, like say in the period of July to December last year, across both services we worked with, I think it was around 115 veteran and their families,” he said.

“A lot of people we work with are just individuals, but I’d say about 20 per cent of the people we work with are families or at least have one dependent.”

Orange Sky volunteer Mark Keeton, a veteran himself, said most did not identify themselves when they used their services.

“Generally, when they come up they are quiet, they just want to use the service,” he said.

Phillip Thompson

Townsville-based federal Member for Herbert Phillip Thompson, also a veteran, said the nation was failing its servicemen and women. “It’s a national shame that any veteran would find themselves homeless or living rough or couch surfing,” he said.

Mr Thompson said many were living rough in his region, putting pressure on essential veteran support services.

He challenged Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to announce more support for veterans, saying it should be his priority.

Major General Day said veteran homelessness and suicide were key challenges in the defence community, which could be exacerbated by issues such as the cost of living.

The reality is the vast majority of veterans are great, well-adjusted and contributing Aussies, but there’s no doubt that service disrupts people’s lives and it damages some and we have to look after those who were damaged,” he said.

Major General Stephen Day is proud of the work the organisation has done to assist veterans.

Veterans across Queensland have had to deal with unique challenges, in addition to general cost of living.

A bombshell report released this month as part of the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide revealed that a veteran called emergency services every 16 hours in Queensland with suicidal thoughts.


If you or someone you know needs assistance.

Lifeline on 13 11 14 or 

Beyond Blue 1300 224 636 or at

Open Arms Veteran and Families counselling on 1800 011 046

Safe Zone Support – for ADF – 1800 142 072.

Sane Helpline 1800 18SANE (7263) or at

Domestic violence support on 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) or

Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800 or at 

Mensline Australia on 1300 789 978

Suicide Callback Service on 1300 659 467

Headspace on 1800 650 890

Reachout at

Care Leavers Australasia Network (CLAN) on 1800 008 774 

13YARN First Nations crisis support 24/7 on 13 92 76

For more information on how to support others who might need help and what warning signs to look for, visit:

Source: Iwan JonesAndreas Nicola and Cas Garvey 25 April 2024